I met her at a restaurant. From time to time, my travels take me to resort kinds of settings. I like to ask my waiters their story, how they got to be there, and where they come from.
Like so many, Sara came to be a server because she wanted a couple of years off before graduate school—possibly. She told us that she had so many interests, so many things she wanted to pursue, but she was unsure of her direction.
So she was taking time off. During the winter months, she taught snowboarding, and worked as a waiter during the evenings. Even though the rents were high, she was enjoying her time in the mountains.
She told me that she was from a small town in Kansas. She was homesick. I could imagine the life there—the kind of place that everyone knew your name, and the local diner served you coffee without you even asking. Probably, it was the kind of place where church was on Sunday and Wednesday, and it’s what people still chose to do.
But Sara was a long way from home. I don’t know the rest of Sara’s story. I wish there was time for more, but she had other customers to serve. And the time slipped by.
A recent survey by Lifeway Research tells us that 62% of the people surveyed went to church as a child, but today 32% identify themselves as non-religious (31% Protestant, 25% Catholic and 12% Other). While the survey doesn’t tell us the reasons for this dramatic decline in church attendance, the results are startling.
A recent issue of Christianity Today (September 2016), tells the story of Immanuel Nazarene in Lansdale, PA. There, the church is thriving with 20-somethings. One of the big reasons why? Bill Wallace. Bill is a 76 year-old man who has made it his mission to let these young people know they matter. Sometimes it is as simple as showing up at their basketball games. Bill, along with a group of other senior citizens, are giving their time to the younger generation and to let them know they have a family at Immanuel.
I write now on a plane home from that vacation resort. I can’t help but think of Sara. I hope she’ll find a Bill Wallace—someone who’s willing to give away their life. I suspect there’s a lot of Sara’s out there—searching. And maybe it’s a little strange how those ideas go together—searching and generosity.
What about you? How many Sara’s do you know? How many Bill Wallace’s? Perhaps you are looking for a way to share your life? Or do you have a story to tell?
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Published October 18, 2016
Topics: Culture Commentary